Today I’ll be hosting author Carol Ann George PhD on my blog. She is the author of “Sandwich Spanish-Painless Spanish: No Grammar-No Rules” that aims to help readers speak fluent Spanish easily.
Me: Tell us something about your journey with Spanish.
Carol: I grew up hearing Arabic, the language of my parents, close relatives, and families that came from our village,in Lebanon, hearing the language daily and singing Arabic and Aramaic songs in the Maronite church. I developed an ear for mimicking sounds that were very similar to Spanish, such as the rolled r and sounds made in the back of the throat.
When I was in the 3rd grade, our school piloted a Spanish program, and I was invited to the local university to demonstrate its effectiveness. This was my first encounter with Spanish, and I loved it!After high school, where I studied 3 years of Spanish, I traveled to Lebanon for six months with my aunt to build a school in our village. There I practiced Arabic and learned about my ethnic roots and ancient culture. When I returned to the U.S., I entered community ollege, then transferred to SUNY Buffalo whereI majored in linguistics. I continued my fascination with Arabic and Spanish, exploring their roles in a global society. However, I was still learning more about both languages, rather than acquiring skills that matched the many years I had spent studying them.
In my junior year of college, I met my husband, who had come from Mexico to study English at the English Language Institute at SUNY Buffalo, after graduating in engineering. We courted and married two years later, and after one year at Carborundum, and both having completed our master’s degrees, we were transferred to the Latin American operation in Toluca, Mexico. This is finally where the Spanish magic happened.
Once in Toluca, home to the Nevada de Toluca, a snow-capped volcano, my Spanish immersion experience began. In just eight months, I was able to claim a reasonable level of bilingualism. After having a repertoire of “hola, ¿cómo estás’, I was beginning to reach a comfortable level, speaking with confidence, which allowed me to succeed in getting most ofmy needs met.
As I began to speak more fluently, I began working at ITESM, as Director of English.Later we moved north to Chihuahua, a large industrial city. It was the dawnof the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), and at the request for language services from international companies, I followed mypassion and opened an adult language institute-Instituto Lingua Franca. Clients from all over the world were trained in English, Spanish, and bi-cultural training. Mexico was the turning point for my bilingual Spanish journey.
Becauseof my bilingual skills in Spanish, I was granted a research fellowship to pursue a PhD in Foreign and Second Language Education. This enhanced my professional profile andallowed me a new and exciting career in higher education. From 3rd grade to a PhD, I have been gifted with a lifetime of unforeseen opportunities, and fortunate timing throughout my Spanish journey.
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